Lawyer in Bezeq probe WhatsApp scandal signs plea deal

Eran Shacham-Shavit, who exchanged text messages with judge presiding over Case 4000, will be disciplined and demoted for a year

Israel Securities Authority investigator Eran Shacham-Shavit (YouTube screenshot)
Israel Securities Authority investigator Eran Shacham-Shavit (YouTube screenshot)

Eran Shacham-Shavit, the legal adviser to the Israel Securities Authority who became embroiled in scandal after a series of leaked text messages appeared to show him colluding with the judge presiding over the Bezeq corruption case, on Tuesday signed a plea deal with the Civil Service Commission.

Under the terms of the agreement, Shacham-Shavit will return to the investigations department of the Israel Securities Authority on Wednesday, where he will be severely reprimanded, and demoted for a year. After that time he will be permitted to resume his previous position as the legal adviser to the Investigations Department of the ISA and to represent the ISA on legal matters.

Oded Savoray, attorney for Shacham-Shavit, responded to the ruling: “The investigation materials, including the full WhatsApp correspondence, convinced the Commission and the State Attorney’s Office that there is a significant gap between the way things were portrayed in the media and what happened in reality.”

Shacham-Shavit was working on Case 4000 when Channel 10 News broadcast messages sent between him and Judge Ronit Poznansky-Katz, who was presiding over the case at the time.

In a WhatsApp chat, Shacham-Shavit told Judge Ronit Poznansky-Katz that the prosecution would seek the release of some suspects but not others. “Try and act surprised” in the courtroom, Shacham-Shavit wrote.

Judge Ronit Poznansky-Katz. (Judiciary of Israel)

“I’m practicing my surprised face,” Poznansky-Katz responds.

In another chat, Shacham-Shavit wrote that regarding the suspects “[Bezeq CEO] Stella [Handler] and Iris [Elovitch, Shaul’s wife], we will ask for a few more days tomorrow. They will request three days, but you can definitely, definitely give two days.”

“You’re continuing to reveal everything to me and I’ll have to act really, really surprised,” Poznansky-Katz responds, apparently jokingly.

Shacham-Shavit later claimed that he and Judge Poznansky-Katz were not previously acquainted, and said he was only in direct contact with her regarding the logistics of the case because he did not have an assistant at the time.

The conversation took place before the suspects’ remand hearings in the so-called Case 4000, where they were ostensibly given an opportunity to make their case before the judge decided whether they can be released from custody and under what conditions.

In an attempt to explain the correspondence, Shacham-Shavit later revealed that police and the ISA were divided on how to approach the quickly ballooning corruption case involving Israel’s largest telecom company. He said that the ISA, as opposed to the police, favored releasing some of the lesser suspects in the case, such as senior Bezeq executive Amikam Shorer, and the son of Bezeq’s controlling shareholder, Or Elovitch.

Following publication of the chat Poznansky-Katz was removed from planned hearings in the case, and in April a disciplinary court for judges found her guilty of unbecoming behavior. No date has been set for the sentencing.

Case 4000 involves suspicions that the chairman and controlling shareholder of the telecommunications giant Bezeq, Shaul Elovitch, ordered the Walla news site, which he owns, to grant positive coverage to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his family, in exchange for the prime minister allegedly advancing regulations benefiting Bezeq and Elovitch.

Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.

read more: